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Stainless steel cookware.

Truth be told, no metal is perfect for cooking. Each metal--from copper to iron, aluminum, and steel has its own advantages and performs certain tasks better than others. By educating consumers about the differences, you can direct them to the most appropriate cookware for their own individual cooking needs.

What are the origins of stainless steel cookware?

Fomerly, most pots were constructed of iron. It wasn't until the 20th century that stainless steel was even invented, tn 1913 in Sheffield, England, metallurgist Harry Brearley discovered the combination of various metals that comprise stainless steel while experimenting with them for use in gun barrels. Little did he know the implications his creation would have on the future of cooking.

Stainless steel does not dent or scratch easily and is also dishwasher safe.

What are the benefits of stainless steel?

While no set standard exists for the perfect metal for cookware (each has its benefits and drawbacks), when you are selecting pots lot your own individual use, you must consider the qualities of the metal used to manufacture them.

Stainless steel is nonporous, meaning it does not pit. It is also nonreactive and completely nontoxic. Steel pans with an aluminum or a copper core transmit heat well and are useful for searing meats. They are economical as well, since they cook foods quickly without requiring high heat. In fact, stainless steel offers great versatility in cooking as its nonreactive qualities allow chefs to cook any ingredient without the pan becoming corroded or discolored. Stainless steel also does not impart a metallic taste to foods.

Also, stainless steel does not dent or scratch easily and is dishwasher safe. The downside to this metal is that it is a poor conductor of heat, which is why it is usually combined with copper or aluminum.

Sandwich bottoms are one of the ways manufacturers improve the conductivity of stainless steel. Known as "cladding," the process involves bonding one layer of metal to another. Pans with thick-clad bottoms are the best choice. Additionally, manufacturers have improved stainless steel cookware by including aluminum or copper throughout the pan's construction. These tri-ply or five-ply pots possess highly conductive aluminum or copper cores fused to outer stainless steel layers. Such cookware incorporates the best of both worlds--high conductivity and stain less steel's versatility, thereby providing a lifetime of cooking pleasure. Plus, to offer consumers a greater variety of product, some manufacturers offer fry pans with nonstick coatings as a bonus with the purchase of a set of stainless steel cookware.

Stainless steel is nonporous, meaning it does not pit. It is also nonreactive and completely nontoxic.

What do different grades of stainless steel mean?

All stainless steel has 18 parts of chromium, it's the percentage of nickel that determines the second part of the equation. Nickel content can vary from 0 to 10. The quality of stainless steel is determined by its nickel content--the more nickel, the higher the quality. Nickel produces a lustrous, more durable rust-resistant finish. For culinary purposes, 18/8 and 18/10 are relatively the same. A pan's luster is simply the result of the finishing process, hut an 18/10 pan will typically have a better finish than an 18/8 pan. Look for an 18/10 pan base if you want your stainless steel cookware to work with induction ranges--18/10 stainless steel is nonmagnetic.

What size pans do I need?

The shape of a pot or pan directly relates to its function, so it's important to consider how and what you cook when selecting the sizes of pots and pans you will need. Low, wide pans encourage evaporation and are necessary for cooking that requires reduction. Narrow, tall stockpots inhibit evaporation, thereby allowing flavors to meld, such as in the blending of a broth.

You should also consider what type of handles would be best for you when you're determining your cookware purchases. Handles should provide for easy manipulation of the pot or pan. Manufacturers have also introduced technological advancements like ergonomic design and heat-resistant elements to handles. Before purchasing a pot, lift it in the store to ascertain whether the handle is comfortable for you. Remember that while wooden or plastic handles may be comfortable, they can also become damaged by open flames on the stovetop, or if they're put under the broiler.

Another consideration is your cookware's cover. Lids serve several purposes, including preventing bubbling liquids from spilling out of the pot, and controlling evaporation, the level of heat, and the amount of moisture within the pot. A wide range of variations in lid types and ways the designs have been adapted to functions is available.

The quality of stainless steel is determined by its nickel content--the more nickel, the higher the quality. Nickel produces a lustrous, more durable rust-resistant finish.
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Publication:Gourmet Retailer
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:800
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